This seminar I found to be a slightly drier session, as personally I don’t have the interest in currently entering competitions. I find that while I want my work to have gravity and be seen, I’m quite happy for that to be on a smaller scale at the moment. (This is totally the wrong attitude, I am aware, but I don’t currently have the self – confidence).

Grants however, I can get behind – funding to create work? Yes please!

Winning grants can help raise your profile and people start taking you seriously; exposure gets your foot in the door. If you’re going nowhere, you have to be in it to win it, so get IN IT!

Grants/competitions often have an entry requirement of a piece of writing that defines and articulates your ideas concisely, also only really wanting 15-20 images maximum to get a feel of your work. Linking back to the portfolio seminar we had, this ability to completely cull and edit your work to the absolute best and most successful is a really key skill – can your work speak in 5 images?
I feel this is where I get stuck, I am not brutal enough within my editing, definitely something to work on for the future.

Another thing to take into consideration is the small print, criteria and contracts that you enter into when partaking in some competitions. Some competitions, such as the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize cost £35 per image to enter, but what else are you giving to the competition if you haven’t read the small print? Some comps ask for the copyright to your images, and then you’re losing out – look out for the sharks swimming around in the shadows.

And of course the main point of entering competitions is to win them, so enter soemthing you might have a chance at winning – consider the judges; will your work appeal to them?

I think this session opened my eyes a bit more to the reality of the photography industry and just how much you really do have to invest in yourself and your work. Of course I understood before, but at the level of competition entries you really have to have that level of commitment, drive and self belief that if you win you can continue making work that shows just exactly who you are.

The absolute passion that has to be demonstrated is actually quite daunting, and some days I really wonder if I have it, the idea of entering competitions and grants terrifies me, showing my work to wider audiences opens me up to potential positivity but also critics, and at such a rocky stage of my photographic journey I feel if I take any knocks I will just chose not to get back up. I really hope the next year can change this attitude, because I didn’t chose a photography degree to be quiet and sit small in the corner!


  • Rebecca Vassie Memorial Award – This award is currently open for entries (closing date 27th March 2020), asking for photography projects of a narrative nature, the winner winning £2000 pounds for a project conducted in 2020.
    This Award focuses on documentary work, telling stories through imagery and projects, which is very fitting with the type of organisation this is.
  • The following screenshots really helped me understand the process of applying, this organisation has laid it out very simply and with a lot of transparency. I feel it is a great award to apply for if your main practice is a documentary led one. I’m not sure it would fit within my practice, but as the rules stipulate no undergraduates, I have enough time to figure it out!
  • Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize – This prize is currently displaying at NPG in London, the winner receives £15,000, (Runners up, £3,000/£2,000). As far as I am aware this money is just given to the photographer, they are not under any commission to complete more work.
    This competition doesn’t feel as transparent as the Rebecca Vassie trust, and I assume because this is a world wide sponsored competition, with a lot more money riding on the winner. The rules are pretty solidly set out, and I love the definition of a ‘portrait’ being included, interpreting in in the ‘wildest sense’.
  • This competition feels a lot more abstract in what it’s looking for, the entries and winners from previously years all very different, but I think that’s why its interesting to enter, as your images could just be the winning ones…
  • South West Graduate Photography Prize – For students graduating the year of the prize located in the South West, work being displayed in an exhibition in London and the winner working on a paid commission with Fotonow in the following year.
    This prize is something I would be interested in entering in my third year, as there is usually a lot Bath Spa graduates shortlisting for this prize. I feel it is very open to any genre of work, which is why I feel I could potentially fit with my very open practice.

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